Former inmate explains growth in female jail population - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Former inmate explains growth in female jail population

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WARREN, Ohio -

What used to be a small statistic is now catching national attention.

The number of women in jail has grown over the years. According to a study by Vera Institute of Justice nationally 8,000 women were in jail  back in 1970.
Today that number has skyrocketed to 110,000.
And the increased jail population is showing its face in Trumbull county too.

It's not the place you'd expect to have a waiting list.
But Trumbull County Sheriff Tom Altiere says the list of people waiting to go to jail has been around for quite some time.

"We're bursting. There's often times we just say. We have no room," said Altiere.
The jail's population has gradually gone up over the years.
In fact, the number of women has more than quadrupled in the county since 1995.
Going from 15 women a night to 74 in 2016.

"We don't control our population. The judges do. So, if a judge wants to put a female prisoner in here, we have to take her," said Altiere.

The sheriff says the problem is the jail isn't getting any bigger forcing many female inmates to sleep on the floor.

"We have cots that we put them on and that's where they'll stay," said Altiere.

"The first time I went to jail was in 1998 I was what you call a frequent flyer," said Jami Palm, Jami Palm who has spent time in jail in the past and battled addition.
Behind bars, she says women had many reasons for going to jail, but they all had a similar root.

"Supporting their habit, probation violations, dirty urine, pretty much everybody, I would say 8 out of 10 people in jail is drug related," said Palm.

Palm the jail numbers are a ripple effect of the epidemic.

"Sometimes jail's your only option because we don't have the facilities here in this area. We don't have the beds and there's such a waiting list to even get into the treatment centers for a detox bed," said Palm.

4 years clean, Palm is proof there is life after addiction, but says with heroin on the streets, the epidemic is hard to keep up with.
And until the area has more treatment beds, than jail beds, she doesn't see the cycle ending anytime soon.

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